Sam Patchett Blog: A remarkable recovery

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June 22, 2016

Sam Patchett Blog: A remarkable recovery

What a difference a few weeks can make. As we move rapidly into mid-June, we’re counting ourselves extremely fortunate to be in the sort of position that looked almost inconceivable two months back.

For the most part, oilseed rape flowering didn’t hang nearly as late as we feared it might. So very few crops have needed a second flowering spray. The way the canopies have developed since the start of flowering is amazing. With plenty of side branching and pods well down the plant, though, judging the best desiccation timing certainly won’t be easy.

The pod shatter resistance we have in the DK Exentiel we’re growing widely will limit seed shedding from the earlier pods as we hold-off on our glyphosate until those lower down bearing the bulk of the yield are fit. Even so we’ll be including a pod sealant with the spray – although probably at a lower rate than in the non-shatter resistant, Harper that also makes up a big chunk of our acreage.

With the way our Exentiel has come through such a challenging season, it will be a major part of our winter rape crop again in the coming year.  To be fair, the Harper has also done well. But, after another season of very high light leaf spot pressure, we need a step up on LLS resistance as well as the best possible resistance to phoma/stem canker. So a significant chunk of our 2016 plantings will be DK Exalte for its extremely strong all-round package.

After the first good spraying day for more than a week, the last of the T2 flag leaf sprays have just gone on to our wheats, which also now look promising.  A gap of nearer three weeks than four since their T1s and the robust combination of SHDI and triazole we used has really helped keep on top of  Septoria in the warm, wet conditions ideal for its development.

Ears are already visible on the earliest varieties. So our thoughts are turning to T3s which should be well on by the time you read this. At least, they will be on our milling wheats. Given current prices and cash flows, though, I suspect many of our feed wheat growers will be doing without them wherever they can.

As I travel round I can still see horrific black-grass infestations in barley as well as wheat that really should have been sprayed off by now. It’s not always easy to bite this bullet. But things will only get even worse for those that don’t.

Having sprayed-off any really bad patches ourselves, we’ll be prioritising the worst fields for drilling as late into October as we dare. We’ll also be concentrating on getting the best stale seedbed kill – more than one wherever possible – ahead of planting.

As well as using the most competitive varieties from the Agrii Advisory List for these fields, we’ll be moving as little soil as possible when we drill to wake-up the least amount of black-grass seed.

Most of our next season’s wheat will be going into three varieties that have proved their worth up here.  Skyfall is giving us leading yields with an excellent agronomy package and the bonus of premiums where we can get them. Alongside it, Dickens continues to yield its socks of – as befits a Northumberland world record holder – and is well-suited to later drilling. Equally, Relay has found a real place as a high-tillering, disease resilient second wheat.

We’ll be giving Graham and KWS Siskin a go too.  Graham’s short straw, high yields and early maturity has great appeal to our many previous Grafton growers.  And Siskin is a step up from KWS Lili in both yield consistency and disease resilience.

While KWS Glacier and Tower are progressively taking over our barley acreage from Cassia,  we’ll also be putting in some KWS Infinity which looks to be a better Cassia replacement than either. With a rynchosporium resistance score of 8 and tremendous yielding ability, I’d like to see  hybrid six-row, Bazooka being given a try. However, with current prices and its high seed costs, this is likely to remain a pipedream.

Agrii agronomist, Sam Patchett works with growers across West and South Yorkshire as well as his own family’s farm (

You can email Sam your comments and opinions via

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